AMHERST, N.Y. (AP)—Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt was wary of the Buffalo Bulls.
He knew the defending Mid-American Conference champion’s home opener wouldn’t be easy for Pitt, which hasn’t forgotten year’s loss to Bowling Green.
|TALENTED FROSH—Pitt’s Dion Lewis (28) gets hit by Buffalo’s Mike Newton (30) in first half of an NCAA college football game at Alumni Arena in Amherst, N.Y., Sept. 12. Pitt won 54-27.
“I wanted to see how we would operate as an offense, particularly as a team, on the road,” Wannstedt said. “We created some turnovers and capitalized on them. That was key for us.”
But winning on the road often means winning on the ground, which is what the Panthers did, piling up 209 yards—190 of them from freshman Dion Lewis—in a 54-27 win over Buffalo on Saturday.
The passing game wasn’t bad, either.
Bill Stull was 21-for-30 for 172 yards and threw three first-half touchdowns to Dorin Dickerson, the longest going for 23 yards. Stull also scored on a 3-yard rollout, which gave Pittsburgh (2-0) a 34-14 lead at halftime.
Dickerson finished with eight grabs for 71 yards.
Lewis had 24 carries for 190 yards and scored from 7 yards out in the first quarter, then capped his performance with a dazzling 85-yard fourth-quarter touchdown run with 4:44 left.
“I just tried to protect the ball and make a play,” said Lewis, who rushed for three touchdowns and 129 yards last week against Youngstown State. “I just followed my blockers, told myself, ‘Don’t fumble.’”
“I’ve said it before, but Dion Lewis, to me, is not a freshman,” Stull said. “He came in early and did his thing in the spring. Today, he got an opportunity to get better and took advantage.”
Pittsburgh withstood a record 400 passing yards from Buffalo quarterback Zach Maynard, who threw for four touchdowns. Buffalo (1-1) had 500 total yards.
But Pitt also capitalized on four turnovers, leading to 27 points.
Buffalo’s Mario Henry fumbled twice and Maynard lost the ball on a pitch, which Pitt’s Greg Williams returned 50 yards for a score.
“It was disappointing, but that’s life and it’s going to happen,” Buffalo coach Turner Gill said. “You play enough football games and you’re going to have turnovers, you hope you don’t have that many.”
Pittsburgh was 5-for-5 in the red zone, but also was penalized 11 times for 119 yards.